Top 10 tourist attractions in Yemen

 

Yemen is home to the several number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It has natural beauty and rich history, like old city of Sana’a, Marib, Socotra and Hadramout are world famous and have been attracting visitors for so many years. Besides its historical and natural treasures Yemen also features beautiful coasts and mountains. No wonder why the Romans called Arabia Felix (Happy Arabia). With so many amazing sights, putting together a top 10 list of tourist attractions in Yemen is no easy task. The following list however should give a good indication of why over you have to visit Yemen.

10- Historic Town of Zabid

zabid

Zabid’s domestic and military architecture and its urban plan make it an outstanding archaeological and historical site. Besides being the capital of Yemen from the 13th to the 15th century, the city played an important role in the Arab and Muslim world for many centuries because of its Islamic university.

9- Almukalla City

mukalla

The main sea port and the capital city of the Hadramaut coastal region in Yemen in the southern part of Arabia on the Gulf of Aden close to the Arabian Sea. It is located 480 km (300 mi) east of Aden and is the most important port in the Governorate of Hadramaut, the largest governorate in South Arabia. Al Mukalla was founded in 1035 as a fishing settlement. This area was included in Oman state until middle of the 11th century, and later this area was included in Yemen states.

8- Alhajarah fort – Haraz

alhajarah

Is a village in Yemen. It is located in the Manakhah District of the Sana’a Governorate, in the Haraz Mountains. Al Hajara is built upon a precipice and is famous for the houses which are built onto the cliff faces.  Al Hajara contains the former residence of Imam Yahya Muhammad, a signatory to the Italo-Yemeni Treaty of 1926.

7- Saber Mountain – Tai’z City

saber

Saber mountain is one of the most famous mountains in Yemen, (almost 3000m above sea level), which affords panoramic views over the city. The city has a Muslim madrasa that has university status.

6- Gulf of Aden – Aden City

gold-mohur

Is a gulf located in the Arabian Sea between Yemen, on the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and Somalia in the Horn of Africa. In the northwest, it connects with the Red Sea through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, which is about 20 miles wide. It shares its name with the port city of Aden in Yemen, which forms the northern shore of the gulf. Historically the Gulf of Aden was known as “The Gulf of Berbera”, named after the ancient Somali port city of Berbera on the south side of the gulf.

5- Wadi Do’an

wadi-doaan

Do’an valley, Em valley, Amad valley.. etc. Do’an valley is the most important, as many villages spread on the road leading to it, some are models of architecture in Yemen, as Al-Hajrin unique village, Do’an valley is known with production of the Do’ ani honey which is considered the most expensive type of honey in the world, the beautiful villages on the valley banks.

4- Bar’an Temple – Marib City

belqis-temple

This lies 1400 m t o the northwestern direction of Mahram Balquis. It is a Sabaean Temple devoted to the Almaqah, the Moon God. This temple comes next to Awam Temple in importance, and is locally known as “al-Amaid” or the throne of Bilpuis. A German Archaeological mission explored this temple, where upon they found it to be square in shape with an open yard involving the sacred well in the middle, together with a pool supplied with water by a funnel from the mouth of the statue of the Holy Taurus.

3- Shibam Hadramout

shibam

Shibam is a town in Yemen. With about 7,000 inhabitants, it is the seat of the Shibam District in the Hadhramaut Governorate. It is famous for its mudbrick-made tower houses.

2- Old city of Sana’a

oldsanaa

Situated in a mountain valley at an altitude of 2,200 m, Sana’a has been inhabited for more than 2,500 years. In the 7th and 8th centuries the city became a major centre for the propagation of Islam. This religious and political heritage can be seen in the 103 mosques, 14 hammams and over 6,000 houses, all built before the 11th century. Sana’a’s many-storeyed tower-houses built of rammed earth (pisé) add to the beauty of the site.

1- Socotra Island

socotra

Socotra Archipelago, in the northwest Indian Ocean near the Gulf of Aden, is 250 km long and comprises four islands and two rocky islets which appear as a prolongation of the Horn of Africa. The site is of universal importance because of its biodiversity with rich and distinct flora and fauna: 37% of Socotra’s 825 plant species, 90% of its reptile species and 95% of its land snail species do not occur anywhere else in the world. The site also supports globally significant populations of land and sea birds (192 bird species, 44 of which breed on the islands while 85 are regular migrants), including a number of threatened species. The marine life of Socotra is also very diverse, with 253 species of reef-building corals, 730 species of coastal fish and 300 species of crab, lobster and shrimp.

Best beaches of Yemen

 

Yemen and its islands have outstanding beaches along the Red and the Arabian seas and as such, we’ve found it very difficult choosing our favourites. We are certain that some of Yemen’s beaches are still unexplored by humans, however, it’s summer in the jewel of Arabia and you are about to discover the best beaches of Yemen where you can bask in the warmth of the sun and swim in the still waters of the surrounding seas.

  • #6 – Lover’s Beach – Aden city

lovers beach

  • #5 – Bir Ali – Mukalla city

birali

  • #4- Arher beach – Socotra island

arher beach

  • #3- Shouab Beach – Socotra island

Shouab beach

  • #2 – Aomak beach – Socotra island

aomak

  • #1- Qalansiya beach – Socotra island

qalansiya

Fishing in Socotra

Paragliding, windsurfing, sand-boarding and rock climbing are just a few of the activities you can take part in while in Socotra. To add to this list of adventure, fishing in Socotra has become a very popular pass time and visitors to the Island know that they are in for a real treat as this ‘Galapagos of the Indian Ocean’  may be considered one of the best destinations for fishing on the planet simply because of the size of fish and quantity found in the waters of Socotra.

If you love thrills then fishing in Socotra is just for you. You will put up a fight with the Barracudas of the ocean as they are the most common fish you’ll encounter. However, you will be amazed at the species of fish you can find swimming deep beneath your boat – from Swordfish to Kingfish to Marlin as well as Tuna and huge red Snappers. You’ll also find big Spanish Mackerals and Yellowspotted Trevallys popping and spinning around the Ocean. Some visitors have reported catching sharks!

Do you dare take the challenge and put up a gallant fight against the majestic and sometimes gilled monsters of Socotra’s ocean? We recommend you visit Socotra between October to May and to bring a very powerful rod with the strongest line you can find for one of the most exciting fishing experiences of a lifetime!

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These photos were taken by GT Fishing Team on their trip to Socotra.

10 Things To Do In Sana’a

Most of you are wondering what to do during your visit or stay in Sana’a and here we’re going to give you some helpful tips on some interesting things to take part in in the old city of Sana’a

  • Walk around the old city of Sana’a in the early morning

Walking around the old city of Sana’a in the early morning has a different taste especially when you watch the locals starting their day heading to the market and opening their shops. You will also hear plenty of blessing words hoping to have a blessed day.

Old city of Sana'a

  • Enjoy some traditional Yemeni Chai

There’s no way you’ll go to the old city of Sana’a without having some Yemeni tea. Try Chai Ahmar (Tea) or Chai Haleb (Tea with milk). If you love milk then ask for Haleb Mofawer and if you prefer tea without milk then you should try Chai na’naa (Tea with mint)

  • Old Sana’a from the top

Nothing better than seeing Sana’a from the roof of one of its old buildings. If you’re thinking to go inside one of these buildings we recommend you to go to the roof of Burj Alsalam hotel as there’s a cafe with a beautiful view of the city.

old city of sana'a

  • Hamam Sana’ani (Sauna)

We all need to relax when we’re away on foreign soil, and one of the best options in Sana’a is going to Hamam. Most of the Hamams are booked for women in the morning and men in the evening. (Going there is usually recommended for men only)

Old Sana'ani hamam

  • On the top of Bab Al-Yemen

Ever wondered about going on the top of Bab Al-Yemen (gate of Yemen)? Yes you can – there’s a small door on the right when you enter the gate which is actually a gallery shop. When you go there, take the stairs up to the gate and enjoy (and some friendly advice – tip the man who works there on your way back)

bab alyemen

  • Have a meal

If you think you have a strong stomach then you should try the local food in the old city of Sana’a. We will leave the choice of what to eat for you but if you don’t like spicy food make sure you tell them when you order “Bedun Besbas”(without spices)

food in the old city

  • Night walk around Alsayelah

Don’t miss the night walk in Alsayelah (rain water channel)

alsayelah

  • Attend a wedding

One of the unique things to do in Sana’a is to attend a wedding. Most of the weddings are held on Thursdays as Yemenis believe it’s a blessed day. Once you see a huge tent with lamps around it and music you can go without advance invitation – Yemenis are friendly they will definitely welcome you as they will know you’re a tourist.

Sana'ani wedding

  • Dress in true local Yemeni style

You can’t just observe the beautiful traditional dress of Yemenis without thinking of wearing it just like them! You can find some traditional dresses in the markets but make sure you get help from a local so you can wear it the way they do.

  • The art gallery

Don’t miss visiting one of the art galleries in the old city of Sana’a.

art sanaa

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How to Get a Tourist Visa to Yemen

In January 2010, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Yemen announced that they will no longer be issuing visas on arrival to the country. A report released by the Ministry stated that in an effort to fight terrorism and strengthen security measures to prevent the infiltration of terrorist elements into the country, the granting of visas at airports to foreigners will be cancelled

That has left many individuals confused – they are keen to visit Yemen yet unsure of how to get a tourist visa to the country. There are several ways this can be done, one of which involves the embassies abroad in the individuals’ residential countries. These Yemeni embassies can issue tourist visas for whoever applies which is then procedurally followed up by a standard security check. Some other embassies may ask you to bring special documents such as an invitation from Yemen or a “no-objection entry paper” stamped by the Ministry of the Interior.

These methods are tried and true and can prove beneficial for many visitors but what about those that just can’t make it to a nearest Yemeni embassy? Do they miss out on the wonders of Yemen? The short answer is no! The simplest yet safest method to gain a tourist visa to Yemen is through a friendly travel agent.

  • Applying for a Tourist Visa through ToYemen.com

ToYemen.com will issue a tourist visa for their clients wishing to take advantage of complete tour packages that typically include accommodation for the period of stay in Yemen, a tour guide and itinerary for the sightseeing and tourist attractions around the country. Furthermore, ToYemen.com is committed to making sure that their clients will depart Yemen safely at the end of their tour.

Please be advised that you should not contact ToYemen.com for your tourist visa if your main purpose of visiting Yemen is to either to work there, visit friends, conduct and/or be involved in meetings with organizations, press coverage, participate in and/or conduct political activities or any activity that is not related to tourism. In such an unprecedented case, the individual is in violation of Yemeni security and may face penalties of a hefty fine and deportation.

The following Nationalities can get a tourist visa on arrival in Yemen

  • GCC Countries
  • Egypt
  • Syria
  • Algeria
  • Jordan

 

Camping in Socotra

As you may know Socotra island is all about nature and there is nothing more bracing than basking in the splendour of nature. Although there are hotels in Socotra, it is recommended that you let your adventurous side run free and instead sleep under the stars in one of Socotra’s long list of remote, yet beaming camping sites.

As long as you have your own equipment for tents, bring along your sheets for sleeping, some food and water, then you can camp anywhere in the island. However, one needs to be aware that there are some camp sites  in Socotra located in protected areas and some camp sites offering a superb retreat accompanied with  food and bathrooms.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular camping grounds in Socotra and feel free to let your imagination run wild as you instinctively plan your next trip.

Dihamri Protected Area (see the map)

Dihamri camp site is one of the few places in Socotra with a beach side at your “door step” with a fully developed community of coral, fish and shellfish. You won’t need to swim further than just a few meters from the shore to see various kinds of soft and hard corals and a great parade of coral fish. Even lobsters, turtles and occasional small sharks can be spotted. There is a camp site located close to the beach on the edge of the Marine Protected Area where visitors can stay overnight and get simple food. You can discover the marine life by snorkelling and diving to several great diving spots in the vicinity of Dihamri. Snorkeling gear can be rented from the beach guard but you would, however, need to bring your own diving gear as the diving instructor leads the way.

Dihamri protracted area

Aomak Protected Area (see the map)

Aomak is the only protected area with tourist facilities on the Southern coast of Socotra. It is located in the centre of the Nujid Plain mostly covered with sand dunes. Herds of camels wander there among paled date tree plantations. The choppy Indian Ocean and long white sandy beaches create a stunning panorama which you can especially enjoy when arriving through the inland Plateau. The camp site has been established just on the edge of the sandy beach of Aomak. The place is a real paradise with a tranquillity of white sands, palm trees and relaxing sounds of the sea waves. Basic meals including fresh fish, bathrooms and camping gear are provided. Snorkeling equipment can be also hired.

Aomak Protected Area

Detwah Lagoon (see the map)

Detwah lagoon and camp site are located on the most beautiful beach of Socotra, Qalancyia. It is a superb spot to enjoy a full day of swimming. The camp site provides tents and sheets plus food and bathrooms. Detwah Lagoon is known for its spectacular landscape and crystal clear water and it is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Detwah lagoon

 

Socotra Island Map

We have been working lately on adding, tourist attractions, landmarks, beaches, national parks and camping sites to Socotra Island Map on Google maps, We highly recommend using Google Maps as it’s provide satellite map that helps you understand the distances. For example how far the airport from the main town or if you wanna discover interesting spot and plan to see them when you come to Socotra, However, you can try it here or on Google Maps official site.


View Larger Map

Best Beaches of Socotra

Most of the tourists who came to Socotra said that Socotra has the most beautiful beaches ever, with the white stands and the unqie color of  the ocean. Let’s see what are the best beaches of Socotra,

  • Qalansiya
    The most beautiful beach in Socotra with its wide open space of white stand.

qalansiya beach

  • Aomak
    Consider as the longest coast line in Socotra and known as the white-snow beach cause its very white stand on the Indian ocean.

aomak beach

  • Shouab
    It has the most amazing ocean color and it’s white soft sand.

shouab beach

  • Arher
    This beach is very different than the other beaches by its huge sand dunes and the fresh water that comes from the mountain.

arher beach

  • Irsal
    The special about this beach is that the rocks are cutting  the beach to make it looks like small natural private beaches.

Irsal beach

Is it safe to go to socotra?

Many people were wondering about the safety in Socotra because it’s location near Somalia, and the current situation in Yemen mainland, here we recommend you to watch this video if you have concerns about that. This video you are going to see is report about Socotra island and its safety. Enjoy watching and let us know what you think?

 

I lived in Yemen for 13 years – Frédéric Pelat

A unique interview with Frédéric Pelat about his trip to Yemen and Socotra Island,

  • What’s your name, where are you from and what do you do?
    My name’s Frédéric Pelat, I’m French, was born in Montpellier (South East of France) but lived in Yemen from 1998 to 2011. I’m now living in London, re-starting studies in Anthropology (with the aim to do a PhD on Yemen soon) but I am basically a tropical agronomist and for this reason I worked in Yemen for 13 years where I created an NGO working on development, IddealesRead more